It’s time for us to take a deep breath and try to understand what is happening to us. All of us, no matter how we identify ourselves.
You know, following politics used to be something boring, something that only a few of us took seriously and wasted much time with outside of presidential election years. Not so, now. I’ve been surprised by the level of political engagement I’ve seen among people who I never before considered to be very politically active. I didn’t understand it. In fact, I even thought that many of them were just hysterical and somewhat ridiculous in how little they understood current events or how things really work.
Then a couple of things happened yesterday.
First, my oldest friend, from all the way back to 4th grade, texted me out of the blue. He’s a progressive guy and pretty well informed. We haven’t spoken since I left Facebook a few months ago. He said, “Welp, you were right. Get ready for WW3.” This was in response to both some previous discussions we had and the news of the previous night’s Syria attack.
The next thing that happened is that Mrs Thrill came home and mentioned to me that some of her students had been keeping up with the news and were wondering if they were about to be drafted to die in a foreign war. Teenagers, who should be concerned with their grades and crushes and video games are stressed out over matter of literal life and death. Their lives. Their deaths. It’s understandably personal to them.
It finally hit me. At long last, I got a sense of the fear and the uncertainty that so many of my friends and family have been feeling for all of these months. In my arrogance, I hadn’t realized what was happening to them.
You see, I’m wonkish. A total nerd, if you will. I read government white papers and think-tanks studies, watch Congressional hearings on YouTube, and religiously follow the news every day. Many of you do too and I think you can relate to what I’m saying. People like us have known for a long time how incompetent our leadership is, how divided it is, and how paralyzed its ability to compromise and resolve problems has become. We’ve known it for years.
We’re not smarter than anybody else, it’s just that we follow this crap the way most men follow fantasy football.
Yesterday, for the first time ever, I understood that it has only recently become apparent to so many of the more politically-disconnected people I know that historical events are speeding out of control. Most of them weren’t really paying attention when the Arab Spring happened. They didn’t recognize the significance of the Syrian Civil War. Closer to home, they didn’t realize what was going on when the Senate couldn’t pass a budget or confirm federal judges and what it was going to bring upon us.
Now it has all suddenly become obvious that we’re in crisis mode and there are seemingly no rules anymore. Everything is smothered with instability and lawlessness. During the election, one candidate was under FBI investigation and now, the President, or at least many of those close to him, are.
Look at this week. The Senate changed its rules because even that old, masterfully deliberating body can no longer manage to form a consensus on something as simple and fundamental to its existence as confirming a qualified Supreme Court justice. That’s not normal, you know that right? There’s no good reason for it.
Worst of all, an American president has used military force against another nation with absolutely no legal authority. Honestly. The president just finally, demonstrably did something that’s actually and provably illegal under both international and US law and instead of being condemned for it, the opposition party and the press are praising him for it. Did you see that coming on Monday? I didn’t. But I’ve adapted and I’m already plotting out what it means.
It’s good, I believe, that so many are waking up and taking an interest in what’s happening, but it’s awful that they feel as if they’re waking up in a living nightmare world in which nothing makes sense.
I’m not writing this post as a condemnation of Democrats or Republicans. I’m neither anti- or pro-Trump in my heart. Instead, what I am saying is that both parties have succumbed to the worst exhortations that cable news, talk radio, and the Internet have had to offer. Our political elites are doing what they thought we, the political junkies, wanted. They’re championing the stupid, partisan, and narrow interests that we have and fighting to get what they think their hardcore base wants as it is echoed by those terrible partisan bullhorns.
It’s not what they’re supposed to be doing. They’re supposed to compromise, to bargain for the good of the nation. Solve the Big Problems. But they aren’t and haven’t for a long time. Either they’re scared of what the opinion-makers on their own side will say or they’re products of them and genuinely can’t think any differently.
I don’t claim to have any answers. There’s never been a time like this one in all the years I’ve observed politics, war, and diplomacy. I’m confused too, you know, and I see that the most knowledgeable and informed among us are as well. There’s a sense that the monster is about to eat us alive and nobody locked its cage because the responsible people were off bickering about whose turn it was.
From my historical and political perspective, my message is this: don’t be afraid. Yes, as a nation we are in for a rough time of it. War is looming, our president is completely unpredictable and divisive, Congress is out to lunch, and our news media is more dishonest than it’s ever been. But we will find a way out of this.
Nowadays I’m often befuddled and I get mad. Sometimes, I’m even pessimistic. But I am not scared. I’ve seen chaos coming for years and yet I still moronically think we can still turn this shit-ship around. I have that drunk and dumbass courage going for me, I guess.
My challenge to each of you is to do what our leaders are failing to do. Be rational, sensible, and pragmatic. Stick with outlets that encourage a higher level of discussion and thought than the partisan, fake news ones that dominate on each side. Hopefully, you see RVS as one of these good places.
Take what you get from reading and hearing what sane people, who truly have the country’s best interests at heart, have to say back to the dazed and confused people you encounter and share what you learned. They’re not ignorant. They’re just overwhelmed and scared.
Remember that we don’t have to follow the rotten example that our elites are setting for us. We are not their puppets and it isn’t our job to help them divide or manipulate us to to attack each other and shut our minds off to reality or reason.
I don’t know about you, but even if we’re totally screwed and it’s too late to for us, I want to go out fighting the good fight. I want to gather up the smartest, most decent, and open-minded people on the Web and prove that we are more intelligent and righteous than the smacktards and lunatics who are running our government, religious, media, and corporate institutions now.
Get on board, folks, because if this is the end of all things, we’re going to document it well here at RVS. Even if we can’t influence the outcome, we’ll be able to prove that we weren’t poking the monster. It’s worth it to me.
I mean seriously, what else are you going to do? Stand around shitting your pants?